How to git clone only a specific file or directory

Git does not directly support cloning only a specific file or directory from a repository. However, you can use --depth 1 to clone only one specific revision (as opposed to the entire history) and use --no-checkout followed by git sparse-checkout set to checkout not the entire file tree but only a specific file.

In the following example, we’ll checkout only the EMQX config files (in apps/emqx/etc) from the entire emqx repository:

git clone --depth 1 --branch v5.0.8 --no-checkout
cd emqx
git sparse-checkout set apps/emqx/etc
git checkout v5.0.8

After this command, the emqx folder will only contain .git and apps/emqx/etc.

Note that you can call git sparse-checkout set multiple times in order to checkout multiple distinct paths.

This example was adapted from this StackOverflow post.